The Australian Prime Minister announced the Australian Government will partner with state and territory governments to establish a new $1 billion JobTrainer Skills Training Fund.
This is clearly welcome news, but what does it actually mean for registered training organisations (RTOs) and their learners?
The fund will provide training places to help school leavers and job seekers access free or low-cost courses in areas of identified skills need, with the Federal Government providing $500 million with matched contributions from state and territory governments. Let's hope everyone is on board!
To inform the identification of courses, the National Skills Commission (NSC) will create an indicative list of qualifications based on its own research, analysis and consultation with stakeholder organisations. This list will help inform discussions with state and territory government, with those discussions to determine the qualifications and short courses to be funded via the JobTrainer Fund.
For participating state and territories - and let's hope that's everyone - it is expected that training places will be available from September 2020. Information on training places delivered under the JobTrainer Fund will be made available through the National Careers Institute on the My Skills website.
Given the rapidly changing labour market and economy, this list will be live and will be updated and refined as required, based on both data and analysis from the NSC and states and territories, and intelligence on the ground.
The key takeaway is that RTO technology platforms that are agile and adaptable will be key to accessing the opportunities that JobTrainer offers. Strap in - it's going to be a wild ride!
Here's a few things to think about when it comes to Job Trainer:
1. Are we leveraging technology to enable remote learning and assessment through registered training organisations?
Until an effective vaccine is developed and deployed, COVID-19 infections are likely to spike and surge across the country. This means that training delivery methods may need to adapt at short notice to more remote and online delivery and assessment. Training providers and RTOs should ensure that training and assessment strategies are amended to reflect this and to account for periods of limited integrated work-based learning and work placements. Online is not just the new normal, it was always part of the normal!
2. Have we secured enough practical work placements for pre-apprenticeship training?
The JobTrainer initiative is likely to result in an expansion of pre-apprenticeship training for the school leaver cohort. This will be rolled out at a time when the labour market is suffering the full effects of the recession as stimulus measures are being wound back.
A lack of work placements may constrain an RTO's ability to draw down pre-apprenticeship funding places unless training facilities can fully replicate the work environment being trained for.
3. Do we have the Infection Control Skill Sets on our scope?
HLTSS00064 / 65 / 66 / 67 have recently been developed for the cleaning, retail, food handling, and transport and logistics industry.
The cleaning (64) skill set could be bundled with other training packages to up-skill or re-skill jobseekers for a wide variety of industries that deal with vulnerable customer cohorts such as in Aged Care, NDIS, Childcare and Security Services.
Explore how you might bundle infection control with existing online learning qualifications ahead of the National Skills Commission publishing a list of short courses that will be purchased under JobTrainer.
4. Do we fully understand how our industry and business partners have adapted their work practices in response to COVID-19, and have we adapted our online training programs accordingly?
The JobTrainer initiative will have a significant emphasis on future focused skills.
Many of these will emerge in the coming weeks and months as businesses move from dealing with the health effects of the pandemic to the effect the recession is having on their revenue.
Short courses that assist jobseekers to prepare for working remotely, running a home office or using new technology will be required from registered training organisations.
Apprenticeship and Traineeship Training Plans may need to be adapted as new ways of working are introduced. Understanding the implications for integrating new elective units in existing programs and offering these as stand-alone programs for Jobseekers will be worth consideration.
5. Do we understand how the VET Reform Roadmap might affect our student management systems and RTOs in the year ahead?
The Draft VET Reform Roadmap is currently under consideration by Skills Ministers. Whilst COVID-19 has affected the timelines and relative priorities in the roadmap, it’s likely that the final version (to be agreed in the next few months) will contain broadly the same suite of measures.
The JobTrainer initiative is an example of how the Commonwealth will seek to increase co-investment to achieve the key outcomes of the Joyce Review. There will be both threats and opportunities through this process and RTOs should familiarise themselves with the reform agenda and build capabilities for areas that will be preferred.
6. How can we improve the resilience of our student management system and training applications in light of the recession, health, and environmental impacts?
Initial predictions of wholesale provider exit from the training market have not yet played out, perhaps because many training businesses were able to access JobKeeper measures or furlough staff. As stimulus measures are wound back, training providers may become increasingly reliant on government funded training as fee for service contracts dry up.
Training providers may need to refresh their business continuity plans in light of the new market dynamics. Particularly if second and third waves of COVID-19 infections lock down face to face training that has been purchased under JobTrainer. As part of this process, it's worth reflecting on how the bushfires earlier in the year also impacted delivery arrangements and access to training contracts.
The first challenge of training providers was to adapt their businesses to deal with the health impacts of COVID-19 and government policy responses to contain it.
The next challenge is to bridge the gap as stimulus measures are wound back, new economic realities become apparent, and the JobTrainer funding starts to flow.